March is Women’s History month, stemming from a weeklong celebration of women’s contribution to culture, history, and society in the Sonoma school district, California 1978. Two years later, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation to declare National Women’s history week as the week of March 8. This week was extended to the entire month six years later when the national women’s history project successfully petitioned Congress to do such.
Proclamations are still made by the President today in order to declare March as Women’s history month; President Donald Trump made his proclamation on March 1, 2017. In his statement, he mentioned how there are still disparities in the world revolving around women, namely “young girls who are robbed of their rights, trafficked around the world, and exploited.” He vowed to protect these girls, as well as women around the world that are treated as lower than their male counterparts. However, he failed to specifically mention the women in the United States that feel as though they two are treated as “second-class citizens.”
Many individuals feel as though the indignation that women feel about how they are treated is ill just, as they do not believe that there is actually a wage-gap or double standards. However, both of these do exist. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted research into 535. What they found was that men, in every profession other than stock clerks and order fillers, earn more than women. In fact, in 2014, women with full-time wage and salary jobs earned only 83% of men’s median weekly earnings. This shows an obvious difference is the amount that women make versus the amount that men make. Some may argue that men make more due to having more education, but with this study being of a large sample, the effect of differences in education on the data is minimized.
Double standards do also exist. Some are in favor in women, but many disfavor women. In modern society, promiscuity is prominent, but women are looked down upon if they behave in similar ways that men do. In contrast, men are rewarded. When parents have children, if they have a girl, they believe that they must protect her from boys, but this is not usually said for when the genders are switched. This is not to say that double standards do not exist that look down upon males, but is to say that double standards are a real aspect of society. One double standard that does not favor males pertains to clothing: it is acceptable for a woman to wear leggings and tight clothing, given that she is not in a professional setting, but this is not acceptable for a man.
The feminism movement does not mean to only seek equality for women: it seeks equal rights for both men and women. This means eliminating, or in the least decreasing, the number of double standards that frown upon both men and women. It also means eliminating the wage gap so that women and men earn the same amount, and the only differences in wage is due to respective differences, such as education and experience. This is the reason for the recent Women’s March on Washington and A Day without a Woman.
Despite any inequalities between men and women, women are still acknowledged and paid respect for their contributions to society. Some historical figures that Trump mentioned in his proclamation include Mary Walker, the first woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor; Harriet Tubman; Susan B. Anthony, publisher of The Revolution, and Dr. Charlotte Lozier, one of the first female medical doctors in the United States.
Another important figure, who similarly fought for women’s and equal rights as aforementioned, is Alice Paul, the leader of the militant wing of the woman-suffrage movement. She was well-educated, with an undergraduate degree in biology from Swarthmore College and a PhD in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. While in graduate school, Paul spent time in England, where she learned to use civil disobedience to publicize her cause from the Women’s Social and Political Union.
Similarly to this year, where women organized a protest on President Donald Trump’s inauguration, on March 3, 1913, Paul coordinated a suffrage parade on President Wilson’s inauguration. Then, when the U.S. entered World War I, her organization organized a picket of the White House, which resulted in their arrest and imprisonment, where they were mistreated, being force-fed. However, this mistreatment brought public sympathy for the movement, and in January 1918, President Wilson announced his support for women’s right to vote.
March is Women’s History month, and it helps us to remember the important women that contributed to society and to culture. It also helps us to remember that society is imperfect with gender inequalities on both sides, and worldwide with the selling or viewing of women, and sometimes men, as objects. Although, society and the world are composed of individuals, so with each individual, society can be changed to slowly become a little closer to perfect, a little closer to equality.
1: History.com Staff. “Women’s History Month.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month>.
2: History.com Staff. “Women Who Fought for the Vote.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
3: “Women’s Earnings 83 Percent of Men’s, but Vary by Occupation : The Economics Daily.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
4: “President Donald J. Trump Proclaims March 2017 as Women’s History Month.” The White House. The United States Government, 02 Mar. 2017. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/01/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-march-2017-womens-history-month>.